Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has bought approximately $2.8 billion in Venezuelan bonds for roughly $865 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing "five people familiar with the transaction."
The bonds were issued in 2014 by state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA, and they mature in 2022. Goldman Sachs purchased the PdVSA bonds through London-based brokerage Dinosaur Group.
The WSJ's sources said the deal is in line with Goldman Sachs' ongoing push to increase holdings in the emerging market, as the New York-based bank predicts a change in government — and, subsequently, a doubling in the bonds' value.
But with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in the spotlight for the country's economic crisis and widespread anti-government protests, Goldman Sachs is being criticized for funding a government accused of mismanagement and human rights abuses.
Julio Borges, speaker of the opposition-led National Assembly, slammed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein for making "a quick buck off the suffering of the Venezuelan people," in violation of the bank's own statement on human rights. Borges added he would urge future Venezuelan governments to not pay out for bonds sold at such a discount.